'Shop local' call as more Shropshire traders get ready to welcome customers back
A rallying call has been made to support the region's businesses as many traders prepare to reopen their doors to customers on Monday for the first time in weeks.
Shops and businesses have faced financial hardship after being forced to shut and furlough staff for more than 10 weeks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now with many non-essential shops being allowed to reopen from Monday, providing they follow government guidelines, people are being calling upon to 'shop local' and help traders thrive again.
Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury Business Improvement District, said: "As town centre businesses begin to reopen, the support of shoppers has never been more important for our community.
"A lot of work by businesses has gone into making Shrewsbury safe and welcoming for people.
"We hope people will feel confident to visit and spend time in the town centre in a safe way.
"Our message to people is to come and show your support for local businesses as they reopen over the coming days."
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Part of Shrewsbury town centre is also set to be traffic-free during part of the day under plans to make the town safe for people during the pandemic.
Work has also been carried out at The Parade Shops in preparation for reopening, after the independent shopping centre closed its doors due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
From Monday, June Crystal’s Cupcakes, Beadles, Salop Stamps, Second Chapter Books, Setonaikai, Bill Leighton Photography, Time Span, Kashmir and Silk, Salop Technology and Think Tank will be open to the public. The rest of the businesses will follow suit.
Imtiyaz Dar, who owns Kashmir and Silk, said: "As a business that relies solely on footfall in to our shop, the lockdown has been a challenging and worrying time.
"The reopening of the shop is a big relief, but it will only provide the lifeline we need if the public support our local, independent businesses. I am really looking forward to getting back to business and seeing our loyal customers again."
Amanda Potter, from boutique shop Number Seven in Albrighton, said: "It has been a really difficult time for me and all traders who have had to close.
"It is my baby, my passion and customers becomes friends. It has been odd not being there and I have missed it terribly.
"I hope we can manage to rescue some of the season and that people will shop local.
"We have an amazing community in Albrighton which has really pulled together in this crisis.
"With it being a small shop I am allowing one it at a time and have introduced sanitising stations in three places, a screen by the counter, and face coverings are available for those who want them."
One shop that has already reopened in the county is Ginger & Co coffee shop in Princess Street, Shrewsbury.
Founder Sam Gwilliam said: "We have been trading about 10 days as a takeaway service and it has been good to see regular faces again.
"Being an independent trader was difficult in normal circumstances, but with Covid, things are even more difficult so the support of customers is more important than ever."
Traders have been working hard in preparation for the big restart
Behind the scenes, traders across the region have been working hard to ensure customers’ safety as they prepare to welcome them back next week.
Monday will mark the return of offline, real life, non-essential retail therapy, which will be music to the ears of many shoppers looking for a small slice of something like normality.
Car showrooms and outdoor markets have already been allowed to reopen this month. Now the Government has given the go-ahead for non-essential retail stores to open their doors once again, provided they comply with safety guidelines.
Hand sanitiser stations and one-way systems have been installed, fixtures and fittings removed, and signs laid out to help shoppers maintain their distance from others.
One trader who has had to delay the opening of her new shop is florist Sarah Louise Glynn of Petals by Sarah Louise in Albrighton, who has had to wait nearly three months to open her new shop.
The florist said: “I have run the business over the last five years or so as a studio florist with no shop front.
“At the start of the year, with the business growing, I took the decision to move to a new premises.
“I got the keys at the beginning of March and had planned to open, but the Government announcement prevented that.
"I am looking forward to getting started and I want people to feel safe when they come in here. I have introduced a one-way system, have got Covid-19 signs, made sanitiser available, and am limiting it to three at a time to come in.
“If we feel it is not working we will go back and see what we can do and will encourage as much feedback as possible.”
Another business preparing to reopen is a gift shop in Newport, which has been forced to adapt to help her survive during the outbreak.
Number 45 owner Nicolette Byrne said: “With the 45 team on furlough I needed to put my energy into making a recovery plan for my business. I decided to set up a ‘shop’ on my Facebook page to enable my customers to still be able to purchase gifts, although on a limited scale.
“The next stage of the plan was to build a e-commerce website, while working from home.
“However, the Facebook shop has been such a success and we have invested in a Number 45 van to enable us to take special gifts directly to our customers.
“Being able to make safe doorstep deliveries to our customers that are in quarantine, self-isolating or home-based is proving very popular and keeping me very busy.”
Number 45 will reopen on Monday, initially on reduced hours and days, for the rest of the month.
Nicolette added: “Our website is under construction, and hoping to go live with it in July. We have made a few changes to enable our customers and staff to feel Covid-safe.”
Family-owned jeweller Beaverbrooks, which has a store in Telford, has introduced floor markings and physical boundaries to ensure safe social distancing for customers and colleagues, daily temperature checks for team members, and hand sanitiser stations at the entrance and throughout the store which will be mandatory for shoppers to use before entering.
Anna Blackburn, managing director at Beaverbrooks, said: “As always, the safety of our people and customers is our number one priority, so we have been working hard behind the scenes to put measures in place to protect them when we reopen our doors.”